Apple and Health-Tech?

Tim Cook believes that Apple's Healthcare innovations will be what Apple will be most famous for. Wow.

Bigtech has invaded almost every important sphere of our lives. Well, pretty much every sphere except health. 

You don’t see healthcare providers powered by Amazon or Apple. Do you? 

Well, that doesn’t mean that they did not try. Both Apple and Amazon have been vigorously pulling the strings to revolutionise the health space. But, to no avail.

What is in health for the big tech and why are the most powerful companies on the planet failing to make inroads in the sector?

Here’s the tell-all. Read on.

Do you visit the doctor for your healthcare needs only when you're sick? Are you sometimes down with a cold and don't consult a doctor unless it gets really bad?

Most of the time, right? After all, it’s a very costly affair. 

And it’s not completely your fault. The healthcare system is designed in a way that incentivises treatments but does not reward disease prevention.

This is exactly the mindset that Apple wants to disrupt.

The vision is to change the current healthcare model where a patient would possibly see a doctor just twice in the span of one year. Famously called the '363' model where an individual didn't consult a doctor for 363 days out of 365 days in a year.

But won’t it be great if your health woes get resolved even before they begin? 

So there is a gap in the Healthcare system that makes it a potential target for tech companies. Apple could very well become a leader in consumer health with additional revenue of $313 billion! For context, this is greater than Apple’s total revenue for 2020.

But what exactly are they gonna do in this space?

Well, trust the multinational tech company to blow your mind with their innovations: A subscription-based personalised health program in combination with Apple Clinics. 

Apple products such as its smartwatch already collect health-related information from its users. Why not leverage this information and make a whole new service out of it!

That’s what Apple planned. The doctors in their clinics would use the health data from the Apple devices that you own. This data could help them analyse important patterns in your day-to-day life and make an accurate diagnosis.

This data could also be crucial in the early detection of illnesses. You get to be closely in touch with your doctor and engage regularly by settling health goals. Sounds fantastic, no?

Well, Apple has been working on this project since as early as 2016! 

Then why hasn't it hit the floors yet?

Data privacy has been the biggest hindrance to the growth of any tech company, even the established ones.

In Apple's dreams of dominating the healthcare sector, data privacy proved to be the buzz-kill.

The logic was simple: data collected by companies for economic gain can also be sold to other companies. If the data collected by your Apple Watch becomes crucial in making diagnosis about your health decisions, there will be a lot of companies after it.

As an example, health insurance companies will know that you run the risk of diabetes and therefore will try to push their insurance plans onto you.

At the same time, pharmaceutical companies will know whom to target as the potential consumers of their vitamins supplements by taking a look at everyone's Health data.

Even your allergies could be public information, and while it may seem like a good thing, it would disclose your vulnerabilities to strangers.

Not unless you want them to know it, right? You would know exactly who knows about your health conditions.

Imagine a company tracking exactly what makes your heart beat faster, how much sleep you're getting, what medicines you're taking, and then selling this information to someone else who will use it to manipulate your decision-making. Feels like a violation? It is.

Could this data, which is supposed to be unique to you, also lead to someone impersonating you? Adam Tanner sure seems to think so.

These are the reasons why 'Casper', Apple's primary care plan didn't take off.

Apple intended to test its entry into Healthcare on its employees first but it didn’t really work out. 

So, has Apple given up its quest to contribute to the health care sector?

Not at all.

The Apple Watch is still used to monitor heart rate and give notifications if it fluctuates.

Tim Cook still firmly believes that Apple's Healthcare innovations will be what Apple will be most famous for. It will be the company’s greatest contribution to mankind. Such big words coming out from a revolutionary company like Apple, ought to be something, no?

Monitoring Glucose, Alcohol levels, BP is just the beginning.

The Apple Watch might also be able to keep track of temperatures, assist in fertility planning, detect sleep apnea, and many other health care features.

With annual contributions of over $20 billion towards Research and Development, Apple is also reportedly studying how its products can help detect cognitive decline, anxiety, and other mental health ailments.

How the companies will work around the data privacy issues will be something to closely watch out for. Apple is not giving up on its health quest anytime soon.

Does the key to a better healthcare system lie with the big tech? Or is the solution someplace else?

Only time will tell.

Till then, ReadOn.

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